On Thursday, the ShiftZen team went to go see Matt Cutts speak at UNC-Chapel Hill. Cutts was a PhD candidate at UNC in the late 90s before Larry Page and Sergey Brin from Google came calling, and ever since Cutts has been a major player in Google’s search, and therefore how customers find the restaurants where they decide to spend their money.
Cutts specifically has a heavy hand in cutting webspam out of Google’s search results. In other words, when someone searches for “best restaurant in Dallas” -- it is Cutts’ code that makes sure spammers don't come up first.
But the interesting thing about Cutts’ talk wasn’t really the minutia of his work at Google, one of the most unique companies the world has ever seen, but the surprising similarities between the lessons they had learned at Google and the lessons other businesses are learning all the time, just like any business struggling to beat out competitors, like restaurants.
Cutts central theme was how Google was really just an assembly of tech guys applying old skills in new ways, and how they simply got creative with applying the tools they already had. Obviously, there’s a lot restaurants can learn from these guys...we’re talking about an industry that still uses pen and paper for ordering in some places just like they did 100 years ago...and scheduling via Excel sheets like they did in the 80s...even though nearly 95% of their employees these days have a high-end wifi mobile device in their pocket.
Think about that for a second.
In the same way that Google didn't reinvent servers (they just reorganized them and made them faster), scheduling software didn’t require a new wheel to be invented, just some former restaurant guys to piece together some already existing concepts like scheduling and reporting, and mesh them together with new online tools like cloud management and mobile texting integration.
We’ve seen entire staffs go from the 19th century essentially to giving up and picking up shifts over cyerbspace, saving companies so much time they literally can’t even go back to the “old” way.
Schedule templates, phones, emails, texting, automated time-off requests -- this isn’t rocket science. Software companies like ShiftZen -- mostly guys who had been in the restaurant weeds before -- simply put them all together and online in one place.
Cutts talked about “disruptive” new technologies, and we’re starting to see that in restaurant scheduling with this new software. We’re hearing about employees who won’t work for companies that don’t have online scheduling, that’s a huge shift.
But these are good things. Creative stuff always changes things and creates problems, but Cutts’ message was about how those situations can produce solutions that end up making things even easier. And that’s when you've got to get creative. Yep, even restaurants can learn from Google.